Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/04/2004 09:07 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 533(JUD)                                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the state's administrative procedures and                                                              
     to judicial oversight of administrative matters."                                                                          
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken stated that  this bill, which  is sponsored  by the                                                            
House State  Affairs Committee, would  allow a person who  is unable                                                            
to acquire  a final administrative  decision from a State  agency to                                                            
request  assistance from  the State  Superior Court.  He noted  that                                                            
Version 23-LS1833\I is before the Committee for consideration.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   BRUCE  WEYHRAUCH,   Chair,   House  State   Affairs                                                            
Committee  which sponsors  this bill, explained  that the intent  of                                                            
this bill is  to provide a person  the ability to "dynamite  a case"                                                            
being  reviewed by  an administrative  agency from  that agency  and                                                            
place  it  with the  Superior  Court  in  order  to obtain  "a  more                                                            
expeditious decision."                                                                                                          
Senator Olson asked how frequently these situations occur.                                                                      
Representative   Weyhrauch   clarified  that   the  Superior   Court                                                            
jurisdictional   review  process   is  currently   unavailable.   He                                                            
explained  that, even were  this legislation  adopted, the  proposed                                                            
process would not be implemented  without a "showing of unreasonable                                                            
delay,"  and,  in  addition,  the  administrative  agency  would  be                                                            
provided  an opportunity to  provide a rational  reason as to  why a                                                            
decision  had  not  be  made.  He also  pointed  out  that  in  some                                                            
instances,  a delay in a determination  might benefit an  individual                                                            
as exampled by a situation  in which, during the review process, the                                                            
Department  of Fish and Game might  issue an interim fishing  permit                                                            
to a person who might have  some issues that might negatively affect                                                            
their  application.   On   the  other  hand,   he  stated,   were  a                                                            
determination  regarding an  appeal of a  person's business  license                                                            
delayed,  the  person's   livelihood  could  be  jeopardized.   This                                                            
legislation, he attested,  would enable a person to request that the                                                            
agency "move quickly provide" to expedite the decision.                                                                         
Co-Chair Green  moved to adopt Version "I" as the  working document.                                                            
There being  no objection,  Version "I" was  adopted as the  working                                                            
Senator Bunde asked regarding  Fiscal Note #4 from the Department of                                                            
Representative  Weyhrauch  responded  that  this fiscal  note  would                                                            
address  attorney  expenses  incurred  to  the  Department  when  it                                                            
represents  an agency  in litigation  based on  unreasonable  agency                                                            
Senator Bunde  observed that this is "when we sue  ourselves again."                                                            
DAVE STANCLIFF,  Staff, Administrative  Regulatory Review  Committee                                                            
and  Staff  to  Senate  President  Gene  Therriault,   informed  the                                                            
Committee  that,  since  1980, in  excess  of  8,500 administrative                                                             
agency determinations  took  longer than one  year to be  completed.                                                            
Continuing,  he noted  that "what  is not reflected"  in the  fiscal                                                            
notes  are the  savings resulting  from  "less State  time and  less                                                            
State  dollars"   that  would  result   were  decisions   made  more                                                            
expediently.  He  stated  that  quicker  determinations  would  also                                                            
positively impact the private sector.                                                                                           
Senator  Bunde concurred.  However,  he noted that  while this  bill                                                            
would encourage more agency  efficiency, that efficiency requirement                                                            
could provide the opportunity for State agencies to be sued.                                                                    
DOUG   WOOLIVER,    Administrative    Attorney,   Office    of   the                                                            
Administrative  Director,  Alaska  Court  System, noted  that,  even                                                            
though many people  might believe that their delay  is unreasonable,                                                            
the Court System  does not believe it would be "flooded"  with cases                                                            
as, he opined,  the possibility  that a case  might be moved  to the                                                            
Superior Court  would serve to motivate agency determinations  to be                                                            
conducted  within a reasonable  amount of time.  He noted that  this                                                            
process could  also be enhanced as a result of measures  included in                                                            
other legislation that  is being introduced. However, he stated that                                                            
were  thousands  of yearlong  determination   delays to  occur,  the                                                            
Department would require additional funding.                                                                                    
Representative Weyhrauch  informed the Committee that, at one point,                                                            
language  had  been  made entertained   that would  have  served  to                                                            
withhold  payment  to Superior  Court  justices  were  a ruling  not                                                            
forthcoming  within six months  after referral.  He noted that  this                                                            
language,  while not  adopted,  could also  have  applied to  agency                                                            
hearing officers.                                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Green  moved  to  report  the  bill  from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
There  being no  objection, SCS  CS HB  533(FIN)  was REPORTED  from                                                            
Committee with  indeterminate fiscal  note #1, dated March  18, 2004                                                            
from the Alaska  Court System; indeterminate  fiscal note  #2, dated                                                            
March 23,  2004 from the  Department of Fish  and Game; zero  fiscal                                                            
note #3,  dated March  23, 2004  from the Department  of Health  and                                                            
Social Services;  and $84,300 fiscal  note #4, dated March  26, 2004                                                            
from the Department of Law.                                                                                                     

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